Photo by Jorge Alcala
February 7 is National Cancer Prevention Day. I have attended for several years, but this will be my first opportunity to speak to the attendees in my new role as Board Chair of Less Cancer.
I have known Bill Couzens for 25 years and remember when he began this journey that has become a major voice in the effort to reduce the incidence of cancers. In 2004, when Bill shared his, then somewhat fuzzy, vision with a small group of friends over dinner in the Pennsylvania countryside, I was so moved by his passion to make a difference and to thereby channel the pain of loss from cancer into something good. Sadly, almost all of us have experienced that loss, but Bill is the one of us who vowed to do something about it. No one at that dinner really understood how exactly he would accomplish this audacious goal, but we knew we wanted him to succeed, and we got behind him as cheerleaders and funders.
Since then, the accomplishments have far exceeded our expectations, and now Less Cancer is a leading force in the effort to reduce the incidence of preventable cancers.
From keeping a spotlight on cancer clusters, to keeping teens out of tanning booths, to educating citizens and lawmakers about cancer risks, Less Cancer has leveraged the Web to reach over 100,000 people daily. Couzens is constantly connecting with other organizations, speaking to students and community groups, and communicating using social media.
Less Cancer is now governed by a dedicated and committed board, which includes business executives, health care professionals, attorneys, journalists and philanthropists. It is a real honor for me to chair this group of exceptional individuals.
Less Cancer was the driving force behind the creation of National Cancer Prevention Day through a House of Representatives resolution on February 4, 2013, which states that work to prevent cancer impacts human health, the environment, and the economy.
National Cancer Prevention Day is now observed annually on Capitol Hill with a rock star line up of cancer prevention experts as well as legislators, students and others. Since the founding of National Cancer Prevention Day, it has developed into a critical national forum, attracting the best leading experts, connecting science with policy for action, and is streamed live to 40 countries. Our partnership with the University of Virginia Medical School has broadened our reach by providing Continuing Medical Education credits to health care professionals.
On February 6, I will have the opportunity to attend the Congressional Cancer Prevention Caucus. This group, founded in 2015 in collaboration with Less Cancer, is a bipartisan forum to engage Members of Congress, their staff and others to advance policy solutions that help prevent cancer before it starts.
On behalf the entire board of directors, I encourage everyone to attend Cancer Prevention Day, either in person or by streaming the event live through Facebook or the National Cancer Prevention Day website.
As our founder expressed, “cancer prevention must be more than an idea, but rather real world action that saves lives and prevents the many types of suffering that come with both the disease and its treatment.”
Less Cancer is playing a leading role in reaching this goal, and I am delighted to play a small role in the support of this work. Join us!